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MAKING DAY CARE A GOOD EXPERIENCE
Most child and adolescent psychiatrists recognize that the ideal environment for raising a small child is in the home with parents and family. Intimate daily direct parental care of infants for the first several months of life is particularly important. Since the ideal environment often is not available, the role of day care, especially in the first few years of the child's life, needs to be considered. Some experts recommend a minimum of six or more months leave for parents. All agree that when day care is used, the quantity and quality of the day care are significant in the child's development.
Before choosing a day care environment, parents should be familiar with the state licensure regulations for child care. They should also check references and observe the caregivers with the child.
Parents sometimes take their young child to the home of a person who is also caring for one or more others. In this family-based day care, infants and children under two-and-one-half need:
It is wise for parents to find out how long the individual plans to work in this day care job. High turnover of individuals, several turnovers, or any turnover at critical points of development, can distress the child. If parents begin to think or feel the day care they have chosen is unsatisfactory, they should change caregivers.
Many children, particularly after the age of three, benefit from good group day care, where they can have fun and learn how to interact with others. Child and adolescent psychiatrists suggest that parents seek day care services with:
Though parents may worry about how the child will do, they should show pleasure in helping their child succeed. If the child shows unusual or persistent terror about leaving home, parents should discuss it with their pediatrician.
Copyright 1997 by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.